I’ve been travelling down the I-15 from Alberta to Las Vegas and LA since I was a girl. My parents loved to head south for vacation every winter and this was their favourite route. A couple of times we went to Phoenix and Tucson, but usually California was our destination. This is the same trip my husband and I made for our honeymoon some 35 years ago and one we still enjoy with our family.
Some things have changed along the way, including an increase in traffic, but we still have some favourite stops. One of these is Zion National Park. The breathtaking scenery is worth the extra time it takes to drive the various loops in the park. I like to visit after the end of October so we can take the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive in our own vehicle, but it seems this year many other people had the same idea. There are only 400 parking spaces available and they were filled by 10:00 am on Monday so the park rangers had to extend the tour bus service to November 22. Knowing this, we decided to drive the shorter Kolob Canyons loop.
|Views on a hazy morning|
The five-mile drive scenic drive through Kolob Canyons is located at Exit 40 of I-15. Here you will stop at the Visitor’s Centre to pay the entrance fee, or if you are like us, show your Interagency Pass. We find having this annual pass very worthwhile, it pays for itself after only a few visits. There is also a small bookstore operated by the Zion Natural History Association where you can purchase guidebooks, t-shirts and other souvenir items.
|Budding photographer with photo watch|
If you have a budding photographer in the family like we do, or if you just want to capture some of the wonderful scenery yourself, there are a number of pull-outs along the route. Some of these have parking stalls and benches, others only have space for one or two vehicles. There is a nice lot at the top of the loop where you can see the valley and river below. We saw some folks having a picnic lunch but it was a bit chilly for our liking so we stuck to snacks in the car.
|View of the valley|
|Informational signs help identify the various canyons and peaks|
If you like to hike, the trails here are less crowded than in the main Zion Park area. You can pick up maps and Wilderness Permits for backpacking campsites and canyoneering routes in the park at the Visitors Centre. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable and can help you choose which trails and activities are best suited for your group.
The sandstone cliffs that range from cream to pink to red make this a beautiful place to stop, even if just to take a bit of a break from the highway. On this visit, we saw a couple who were just married. Looks like it’s still a great location for a honeymoon trip.
|Congratulations to the happy couple!|
We’ve visited Zion National Park in every season of the year. I can’t say which one is my favourite since there is something a little different in each one.